HL Deb 07 March 1967 vol 280 cc1401-34

6.30 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Walston.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL. OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 37 agreed to.

LORD WALSTON moved, after Clause 37, to insert the following new clause:

Recovery of possession of farmhouse vacated on amalgamation and let on regulated tenancy

".— (1) The following provisions of this section shall apply where—

  1. (a) as part of an amalgamation to which a scheme under section 26 of this Act applies, the occupation of a dwelling-house is relinquished by a person who, at any time before he relinquished it, was responsible (whether as owner, tenant, or servant or agent of another) for the control of the farming of any part of the land comprised in the amalgamation, and
  2. (b) the dwelling-house is thereafter let on a regulated tenancy otherwise than to, or to the widow of, that person, any other person who relinquishes his occupation of a dwelling-house as part of the amalgamation, or any person who is or at any time was employed by the landlord in agriculture.

(2) If—

  1. (a) not later than the commencement of the regulated tenancy, the tenant has been given notice in writing that possession may be recovered under this section, and
  2. (b) apart from the Rent Acts, the landlord would be entitled to recover possession of the dwelling-house, and
  3. (c)the court is satisfied that the dwelling-house is required for occupation by a person employed or to be employed by the land-lord in agriculture,
the court shall, in proceedings commenced by the landlord at any time during the period of five years beginning with the date on which the proposals for the amalgamation were approved by the appropriate Minister, make an order for the possession of the dwelling-house, whether or not it would have power to do so under section 3 of the Act of 1933, and section 5(2) of the Act of 1920 shall not apply in relation to the order.

(3) In this section— the Rent Acts" means the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Acts 1920 to 1939, or any of those Acts, and "the Act of 1920" and "the Act of 1933" mean respectively the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act 1920 and the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions (Amendment) Act 1933; employed" and "agriculture" have the same meanings as in the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 or, in Scotland, the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949; landlord", "tenant" and "tenancy" have the same meanings as in the Act of 1920; regulated tenancy" means a tenancy to which the Rent Acts apply by virtue of section 1 of the Rent Act 1965; and order for possession", in relation to to Scotland, means decree of removing or warrant of ejection or other like order.

The noble Lord said: It may be convenient, if your Lordships agree, to discuss together the new clause which stands in my name and the Amendment to it in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford. When two farms are amalgamated under this Bill, there may be cases in which one of the farmhouses falls vacant on the departure of the outgoing occupier. The man who is going to farm the new unit will probably need one house for his own occupation. He is probably already in occupation of it, but he may be undecided, at the time when the amalgamation takes place, whether he is going torequire the second house for the proper operation of the amalgamated holdings, or whether it can reasonably and conveniently be let to somebody who is not engaged in agriculture.

In such a case, of course, the farmer would know that if he let the vacant house to anyone else the tenancy would be subject to the provisions of the Rent Acts, so that he might be unable to recover possession when he needed the house in connection with farming the unit. So it could well be that in such circumstances he would consider it only prudent to keep the house unoccupied until he had made up his mind whether or not he was going to use it.

When this matter was discussed in another place, the argument was advanced that it would be wrong to allow good agricultural houses to remain vacant in this way, and very possibly to deteriorate as a consequence of being unoccupied. So the Government undertook to examine the whole problem and this new clause, which has now been set down in my name, embodies our proposals for dealing with the special case of the farmhouse which falls vacant as a result of a farm amalgamation under this Bill, and which is thereupon let on a regulated tenancy.

We have provided, first, that the tenant should be told at the time of the letting that the special provisions of the clause will apply, and that if the provisions of the clause are satisfied the court shall make an order for possession notwithstanding other provisions in the Rent Acts which might otherwise prevent this. Your Lordships will, of course, be aware that the Government place importance on making quite certain that, wherever possible, farmers who give up their holdings for amalgamation under this Bill shall be allowed to remain in occupation of their farmhouse if they so wish. This principle has not been questioned at any time, so far as I know, during the passage of this Bill.

Alternatively, the landlord may offer the outgoing occupier the other farmhouse instead—perhaps because his old house is the better one on which to base the amalgamated homestead. The object of such an arrangement would be defeated if the landlord who had allowed the outgoer to stay were then given powers to dispossess him. I think your Lordships will agree that it is essential that this class of person should enjoy the protection of the Rent Acts, and we have framed the new clause accordingly. It is also proposed to exclude from the special powers in the clause lettings to past or present agricultural employees of the landlord. Your Lordships will know that such persons are already excluded from the similar provisions of Section 16 of the Rent Act, 1965. Repossession from such tenants is dealt with by Section 33 of that Act. The Government's new clause puts lettings to farm workers under it on the same footing as under the 1965 Act.

The power to recover possession is limited to a period of five years from the time when the amalgamation was approved by the Minister, and this is the provision which the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, seeks to delete by his Amendment. I have personally given a lot of thought to this matter, because I confess that I felt there was a great deal of force in the noble Lord's Amendment. But I have come to the conclusion that five years is both a reasonable and an ample period, during which the needs of the individual holding should become abundantly clear. I feel that if the landlord has not exercised his option during that time, the house should be treated in the same way as any other rural dwelling which is not used for letting to agricultural workers.

The Government consider that the amalgamator—the man who has taken on 'the two holdings—must make up his mind in a reasonable time whether or not he needs the house. Ideally, of course, he should make it up at the time of the amalgamation. He should decide then which of the houses he wants to use, as if he does not do so the amalgamation will to some extent suffer. I accept, though, that it is imposing too much of a burden on him to insist that he makes up his mind at the very moment of amalgamation, or within a few months. He may well want some time to decide whether he needs any other of those houses for a worker, and, if he does, to install a worker in it. But I do not think it would be reasonable to insist that he should have a permanent option to repossess the house for general agricultural purposes; and especially not to serve as a farmhouse again. I feel that he should show within a reasonable time of the amalgamation that the house is, in fact, wanted for a farm worker.

The Government are concerned that amalgamations under the Bill should not allow a house which is needed for a farm worker to lie idle, even for a limited time. Nevertheless, we must protect those who have given up their homes to allow an amalgamation to proceed. We must also ensure that the extension of this class of temporary tenancy is firmly linked to the needs and difficulties arising from the amalgamation. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will agree that by this new Amendment we have struck a reasonable and fair balance between these objectives.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, for putting down his Amendment, and I have explained why it cannot be accepted at this present time. I do not know whether he would like at this stage to explain some of his reasons for feeling, in spite of what I have said, that it is perhaps a desirable Amendment.

Amendment moved— After Cause 37, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Walston.)

6.39 p.m.

LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved, as an Amendment to the Amendment, in the proposed new subsection (2), to leave out "during the period of five years beginning with the date on which" and to substitute "after". The noble Lord said: May I thank the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for explaining the purpose of his new clause and for discussing the merits of my Amendment to it? I should like, first, to welcome his new clause, which is substantially the same as the one that I put down earlier on the Order Paper and subsequently withdrew. This reflects the view expressed by the Conservative spokesman in another place, that this was a provision which should be made: that when an amalgamation took place the spare farmhouse constituted a special case. I was disappointed that in another place the Government divided against the proposal and defeated it, but I am delighted that wiser counsels now prevail, and that the Government see the wisdom of making provision to meet this case, and to extend the provisions of the 1965 Rent Act to cover the spare farmhouse.

The new clause moved by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, goes rather further than did my new clause, because it makes special provision for the retiring farmer or his widow to continue to live in the spare farmhouse if they wish to do so. I quite accept that that is both humane and sensible, and the proper thing to do. In fact, unless such was done there probably would not be an amalgamation at all, so it is an entirely sensible thing to do. But I am not entirely happy with the five-year limitation, because I think it might well frustrate the very purpose for which the clause sets out to make provision.

I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that if the farmhouse is vacated by the farmer who had the holding before, five years should be enough for the amalgamator (as the noble Lord called him) to make up his mind whether or not he wants the farmhouse for the future running of the amalgamated holding. But where it seems to me the five-year limitation may frustrate the whole arrangement is where the retiring farmer or his widow stays on and continues to live in the farmhouse, because the term of five years runs from the time of the amalgamation, and the retiring farmer might very easily stay on for many more than five years. He might stay on for 10 or 15 years before he left his vale of sorrow and went to a happier place; and by that time the farmer who was farming the holding and waiting to get the farmhouse would have lost the possibility of getting control of it. In these circumstances, while I see the point in the noble Lord's mind, I think that this five-year limitation is a limitation which may destroy the purpose of the new clause. That is the reason why I put this Amendment down.

I know that the feelings I am expressing are strongly shared by the National Farmers' Union, who I think have already written to the noble Lord about this point. I realise that this new clause has only recently arrived on the Order Paper, and that there has not been much time to work out all the implications of it. In the circumstances, I wonder whether the noble Lord would consider taking back this new clause now and giving further consideration to it before the Report stage, to see whether or no he really feels that the five-year limitation should be kept in. I feel that there is so little between us on this. We both want the substance of the clause, and what it sets out to do; and the only difference is on the five-year point. I wonder whether, in those circumstances, the noble Lord would be prepared to give further consideration to it. I beg to move.

Amendment to the Amendment moved— Subsection (2), line 11, leave out ("during the period of five years beginning with the date on which") and insert ("after").—(Lord Nugent of Guildford.)


As the noble Lord has said, I agree that this is a new Amendment and that there has not been much time to think about it, although a great deal of thought has gone into its preparation. I would be misleading the noble Lord if I said that we would reconsider the principle of the five-year period. I think that has been gone into with great care, and that we have achieved the right balance. However, there may be circumstances of the type that he has mentioned, in which the farmer lives for some time afterwards and the amalgamator would like a certain period of time after the death or disappearance of the other farmer, or the occupier of the second farmhouse, in which to consider his plans.

I think there could be some argument for making some form of extension in that respect, and therefore I should be glad to give further thought to this. I think it might be more convenient if the Amendment in my name—that is, Amendment No. 30—were agreed to now, but subject to the proviso that more thought will be given to it, and that a subsequent Amendment might be produced on Report stage to meet the point raised by the noble Lord.


I thank the noble Lord for going that far to meet my point, and in those circumstances I am happy to beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment to the Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 38 [Provisions relating to Northern Ireland]:

6.46 p.m.


The next Amendment is consequential upon the previous Amendment, No. 30. It provides that the new clause added by Amendment No. 30 shall not extend to Northern Ireland, where the existing law already enables dwelling-houses to be repossessed in the circumstances specified in the new clause. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 45, line 9, at end insert ("and section (Recovery of possession of farmhouse vacated on amalgamation and let on regulated tenancy)").—(Lord Walston.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 38, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 39 to 43 agreed to.

Clause 44:

Rural Development Boards.


(2) Those special problems and needs include the special difficulties in the formation of commercial units of agricultural land in such areas, the need for an overall programme for guidance in making decisions as to the use of land in such areas for agriculture and forestry, so that those two uses are complementary, the need for improved public services in such areas in step with their development for agricultural and forestry purposes, and the need for preserving and taking full advantage of the amenities and scenery in those areas in the course of their development for those purposes.

(8) The provisions of subsections (51, (6) and (7) of this section shall not apply to Scotland, and on the establishment of a Rural Development Board in Scotland, the Secretary of State shall cause a notice referring to the provisions of this Part of this Act controlling sales of land and controlling afforestation to be lodged at the principal office of the county council of every county in the area of which any part of the Board's area lies, and the notice shall be available for inspection free of charge at all reasonable hours.

LORD BALERNO moved, in subsection (8), after "country", where that word occurs a second time, to insert: and at the office of every burgh and every district council".

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 33, which stands in my name, and with which the name of my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard is associated. As regards the formation of Rural Development Boards in Scotland, while notice of the intention to form a Board is fairly adequately provided for by intimation in the local papers for two successive weeks, the local papers are not a terribly good medium, because they do not always circulate to the farms. 'The agricultural Press—one of the two farming papers—is more likely to be read by the people concerned than are the local papers.

The point I wish to bring to the attention of your Lordships' Committee, and which I wish to make by this Amendment, concerns subsection (8) of Clause 44, where it is required that a notice referring to the establishment of a Rural Development Board in Scotland is to be lodged at the principal office of the county council of every county in the area of which any part of the Board's area lies,… The purpose of my Amendment is to extend this requirement to include district councils, as well as any burgh that is within that area.

There are great distances within certain counties in Scotland. If I may give an illustration, many of your Lordships who have perhaps not been to Scotland will be acquainted with Dr. Finlay's Casebook, in which case Tannochbrae will be vivid in your minds. To quote the opening words of Clause 44, it is comprised of typical "rural areas of hills and uplands". Very few people from Tannochbrae would wish to go to Perth, or would have occasion to go to Perth. They will go down to Stirling, which is unlikely to be associated with Perthshire in connection with a Rural Development Board. But from Tannochbrae to Perth is really a comparatively short distance. One must appreciate that Perthshire extends considerably further from Perth than Tannochbrae: it goes right up to Aberfoyle, across to Loch Katrine, almost to Loch Lomond; then it comes to the River Falloch, which runs into Loch Lomond. Anybody who lives in the valley of the River Falloch will certainly go down Loch Lomondside (his line of communications is down Loch Lomondside) into Dumbartonshire and will go several miles further on the other side of Glen Falloch. So the distances are great; and some of the small farmers are not accustomed to going great distances other than to their markets. Certainly the people from Glen Falloch would not be in the habit of going to Perth in ordinary circumstances; it will be a big job for them.

A further instance in an area which might be covered is the Cabrach, in Aberdeenshire. To my mind, the Cabrach, which borders Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, forms an excellent area for a Rural Development Board as envisaged in this clause. It is full of small farms and crofts of 30 to 40 acres; and the farmers there are not necessarily in the habit of going to Aberdeen, except perhaps when visiting their sons and daughters at the university.

A kind fairy has been helping me with this particular Amendment. I had not thought about the burghs in the area of the Rural Development Board. But they have been inserted, and I hope that the good will that has improved my intentions will permeate the Government Benches and that we in Scotland shall receive favourable consideration for this peculiarly Scottish case—for this is a Scottish clause, affecting Scotland only.

Amendment moved— Page 50, line 28, after ("county") insert ("and at the office of every burgh and every district council").—(Lord Balerno.)


I should like to support my noble friend in this Amendment. He talked about the great distances in Perthshire, but they are as nothing compared with the even greater distances in Argyllshire. When we have a General Election, the ballot boxes from Argyllshire usually take three or four days to reach their destination. Some have to come by rowing boat from the small islands. It would be extremely difficult for any of the residents in these outlandish places to go to the county capital. I would say that Argyllshire, even more than Perthshire, is a county of crofters and smallholders and it would be impossible for a great many people anxious to go to the county offices to travel the distances required. Therefore I support the Amendment.

6.54 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Balerno, did an excellent conducted tour of Dr. Finlay's Casebook territory. But it runs in my mind that in one of the recent episodes Janet made an expedition away from Tannochbrae—though I do not remember where she went. When the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, brought in Argyllshire I thought we were going to get a similarly well-conducted tour of Argyllshire. Instead, he contented himself with reminding us that it takes four days for the bad news of the results of a General Election in Argyll to reach us. However, I will now come a little more relevantly to the Amendment.

I think it is correct that the purpose of the Amendment (and of the one following in the name of the noble Viscount) is to make more widely known any establishment of a Rural Development Board. May I, at this point, take the opportunity of saying that in future I shall refer to such a Board merely as "the Board"? The Amendment would also apply to conferring powers of control over land transfers and afforestation on the Highlands and Islands Development Board. The Government have no plans at present to set up a Scottish Board. This has been said more than once; but we have not said that we will not at any time set up a Board. We can only state this as the likely position. It is quite proper, in dealing with a Bill, that we should proceed on the basis that the unlikely may in fact take place. I agree that if such a Board should be established the fact should certainly be made known to all those who may be affected. But I think that this is provided for in paragraph 5 of Schedule 5, which refers to the advertisement of the making of the Order and the deposit of a copy of the Order where it is to be available for inspection. I would remind your Lordships that this follows the procedure set out in Schedule 5, concerning advertisement of a proposed Order, objections, public inquiry and finally Affirmative Resolutions by both Houses of Parliament.

The lodging with the county council of a notice under Clause 44(8) serves a different purpose altogether. It is designed to enable the purchaser of land in Scotland to ascertain from an authoritative source at any given point of time whether any of the land is subject to the powers of control under this Part of the Bill either by such a Board or by the Highlands and Islands Development Board. I would remind the Committee that normally the purchaser of land looks to the Register of Sasines for any possible limitation. This, of course, would not be found there. It is for this reason that it was thought that the purchaser of land, his agent or his lawyer, would not find it a burden to make inquiries at the county council. So we are dealing with two quite different aspects. I think the purpose the noble Lord seeks to achieve is already accomplished in the other part of the Bill. This serves adequately the purpose intended, the more limited one of the actual purchaser of land.

I started on an irrelevancy. If I may, I will finish on another by replying to a question which the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, put to me yesterday. He asked whether a piece of mobile equipment which was neither a harvester nor a tractor would be eligible for grant. In order that the noble Baroness may know that we are not completely hidebound in these matters, that we are not firmly immersed in the end of the last century or the beginning of the present one, I can say that the answer to the question of the noble Lord. Lord Balerno is, Yes, if the machine is to be used for agriculture; if the machine is self-propelled; if it is licensed, and, finally, if it is not normally capable of exceeding a speed of 30 miles per hour. So there is now one additional piece of equipment which is mobile and yet acceptable. Having given the noble Lord these glad tidings, I hope it will encourage him to accept my explanation in relation to this Amendment, that he will find it possible to withdraw his Amendment, and that the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, will not find it necessary to move the next Amendment.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for his reply and especially for clearing up the point which I raised yesterday. It does rejoice me to think that when this Bill becomes an Act I shall be able to apply for a grant for a self-propelled lawn mower which collects the grass, which makes it a forage harvester.


If it is used for agriculture.


I think that if you live on a farm you can make a case for it being used for agriculture. After all, you have to keep the sward down in the the cause of good husbandry. It would make a very pretty point to argue with the Scottish Department of Agriculture.


May I ask my noble friend Lord Balerno whether he thinks that the amount of the licence fee would be as much as or more than the grant?


To the noble Duke I would say that, if the machine would relieve me in my old age of the amount of sweat that I now pour out by rushing after a lawn mower which I have to follow on my legs (for if it were a self-propelled machine I should expect it to be one on which you could ride as the Americans do), it would be an article which I have for several years wished that I could secure. I am grateful to the Government for managing to make it possible for me to do so.

With regard to the Amendment, sometimes a crofter wishes to acquire further land from a neighbour who has died. This happens not infrequently and if this subsection is not amended it will mean that the crofter would have to make a very long journey merely to discover in the first instance whether or not the land is acquirable. I should have thought the Government could concede this point. The fact that subsection (8) applies only to Scotland means that there is a possibility of Rural Development Boards coming to Scotland. But, in view of the assurance of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, I feel that the matter is not of sufficient immediacy to justify my pressing the Amendment. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The purposes of the Amendment is to delete the reference to the Minister of Land and Natural Resources. Your Lordships will know that, as from February 16 this year, the functions of the Minister of Land and Natural Resources, so far they related to forestry matters in England were transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. This Amendment, and, if I may mention it now, those to Clauses 45, Nos. 50, 51 and 53, are necessary to delete references to the funtions of the Minister of Land and Natural Resources in respect of the appointment and duties of Rural Development Boards. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 50, line 33, leave out from ("to") to end of line 37 and insert ("Wales, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Wales acting jointly").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 44, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 45:

Functions of Rural Development Boards


(b) in consultation with such local authorities and other bodies as appear to the Board to have an interest, to draw up a programme for action to meet those problems and needs and, so far as the programme will entail expenditure by the Board, to submit to the appropriate Minister for his approval proposals for that expenditure,

7.5 p.m.

LORD MOLSON moved, in subsection (1)(b), after "in consultation with", to insert " planning authorities and" The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name. The effect of it would be that the clause would read: It shall be the function of a Rural Development Board…in consultation with planning authorities and such local authorities and other bodies as appear to the board to have an interest…". It is strange that all through this Bill there is practically no reference to planning authorities. It maybe because the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has never had very much to do with planning law. Generally speaking, agricultural buildings are excluded from the restrictions and restraints which are imposed upon other buildings. It appears to the amenity interests desirable that there should be close and friendly discussion between the agricultural authorities and the planning authorities. That would appear to be particularly the case in these hilly districts where Rural Development Boards are going to be set up.

The effect of the Amendment will be two-fold. In the vast majority of counties the planning authority is a committee of the county council. I think it reasonable that Rural Development Boards should consider the county councils as one of the local authorities which should appear to have an interest in any of the programmes of development which they advance. But the effect of these words would be to make it obligatory on the Rural Development Boards to consult. In respect of two of the National Parks the matter is more important. Planning Boards have been set up in respect of the High Peak and also the Lake District and they are independent of the local authorities. I am sure it is extremely desirable that in those hilly districts, which would appear to be particularly appropriate for Rural Development Boards, other considerations besides purely agricultural ones should be taken into account and the planning authorities should be consulted by the Rural Development Boards. This does not in any way give a veto to the planning authorities on what the Rural Development Boards wish to do, but it makes certain that there shall be consultation between them. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 51, line 1, after ("with") insert ("planning authorities and").—(Lord Molson.)


As is usually the case, I find myself in very strong agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord Molson, has said; but, with respect, I suggest to him—I hope that he will be persuaded by what I am about to say—that there is no need for the Amendment because the matter is already covered in the Bill as it is drafted. The subsection already provides for local authorities and other bodies that have an interest to be consulted by Boards when drawing up their programmes. What is more, all planning authorities which have an interest, whether they be local authorities or not, will be consulted by the Boards and any necessary planning consents obtained. I can assure the noble Lord that the Boards will be subject to the control of the planning authorities, and in no circumstances will the Board be able to override a planning decision. I hope therefore that the noble Lord will agree that in view of these assurances his Amendment is unnecessary and that he will be prepared to withdraw it.


I am extremely happy to hear the Parliamentary Secretary's statement. Naturally I accept it. I think that the drafting of the Bill is not as clear as it might be, and after my friends and I had looked at it we did not think that this matter was covered. However, the methods of Parliamentary draftsmen remain to me as obscure as they were some thirty years ago when I first began to study legislation, and I accept the assurance the Minister has given on behalf of the Government that in all these cases the local planning authorities and other bodies interested in planning will invariably be consulted. In view of that assurance, I ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


This Amendment is consequential on those de- leting the references to the Minister of Land and Natural Resources in so far as they relate to the functions of a Rural Development Board in England. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 51, line 21, leave out ("England and").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 45, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 46 agreed to.

Clause 47:

Promotion of amalgamations and boundary adjustments by Rural Development Boards

47.—(1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 45 of this Act, a Rural Development Board shall have power to acquire, hold and dispose of land in their area for the purpose of effecting amalgamations of agricultural land and reshaping agricultural units, and power for the said purposes to enter into transactions involving loss, including—


It has always been the intention that under this clause a Board should have powers to acquire land only by agreement. The clause gives the Board the same powers as the Minister to enter into transactions involving loss for amalgamation purposes and to apply Schedule 3 by deed to holdings amalgamated in this way.

During the passage of the Bill through another place, the Government undertook, provided there were no legal difficulties, to give favourable consideration to the proposal that the wording of the Clause should leave no room for doubt that the Board had power to acquire land only where the owner agreed. During my speech on Second Reading I stressed this same point. I am happy to be able to put forward this Amendment, which I hope your Lordships will find acceptable. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 52, line 28, after ("acquire") insert ("by agreement").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 47, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 48:

Control of sale of certain land


(3) The Board shall not refuse consent unless they are satisfied that the land to which the application relates, if acquired by them in accordance with this section.— (c) is land which, in the opinion of the Board and the Forestry Commission, ought to be planted by the Forestry Commission, or

(4) The Board shall, within two months of receipt of an application duly made for consent under this section, serve on the applicant notice of the manner in which the application has been dealt with; and, except where their decision is to grant their consent, the notice shall give the reasons for their decision.

7.13 p.m.

THE EARL OF DUNDEE moved in subsection (3)(c) to leave out "the Board and". The noble Earl said: Perhaps your Lordships will agree to my speaking to Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 together, as they are on the same point. They would have the effect of slightly amplifying the powers of the Board to interfere with free sale. I am aware, of course, that some of your Lordships do not particularly like that power, but as we are accepting it I feel that it is reasonable and fair that it should apply equally to public and private forestry. As it stands, the clause appears to discriminate against private forestry, because the Board are allowed to refuse a licence for a sale on the ground that it might be desirable that the land should be planted by the Forestry Commission and not on the ground that it might be desirable that it should be planted under a dedication scheme.

As many of your Lordships are probably aware, under the forestry programme of 1943 private planters so far have rather more than fulfilled the target which was set them. The Forestry Commission, for various reasons which are not their fault, have not succeeded in doing that. I think that the Government generally would agree with me that the Forestry Commission and private forestry ought to do a great deal more planting than they are doing, especially in areas containing a large proportion of marginal and hill land, where forestry is required to prevent further de-population, or to encourage the re-population, of the area. That is the kind of area in which it is contemplated these Boards should be set up.

It seems to me that there are three good reasons why private forestry, as well as the Forestry Commission, should be considered under this clause. The first is the possibility of competition. There is no necessary harm—in some cases, it might even be a good thing—that a private planter, or a group of private planters, should be allowed to compete with the Commission in making an offer for a piece of land. They may think that they are able to give a better price, or to do the planting better. I think it would be unfair that the Board should be allowed to create a monopoly for the Forestry Commission by holding up the sale merely in order that the Commission may get it at a fixed price, with no competition. I think that is one good and valid reason.

The next reason, which I know more about, is that it would encourage co-operation, not competition, between private planters and the Forestry Commission. I myself have never competed with the Forestry Commission in seeking land for planting, and I have often co-operated with them. On two occasions within the last ten years I have acquired land for planting which the Forestry Commission agreed ought to be planted but which, for various reasons, they did not wish to acquire and plant themselves. They agreed that the land was suitable for dedication, and with their knowledge I acquired the land, which in each case was a considerable area of several hundred acres. I planted the land under dedication schemes, which means, of course, that they are controlled in the public interest.

I have also done the reverse. Whenever I want to get rid of any land which I think ought to be planted but which I cannot plant, I always offer it to the Forestry Commission, at least in the first instance. On one occasion, I was not able to plant some land which I felt ought to be planted within a short period of time. The Commission, who agreed that it should be planted, found it inconvenient that they themselves acquire it, and I therefore sold it to a private individual, who I understand intends to get a dedication agreement. This is exactly the kind of thing which, in my view, might happen in numerous cases in the areas where these Boards are most likely to be set up.

In an area as large as Wales, or wherever it is proposed to set up these Boards, this sort of co-operation is desirable. It is possible, as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, pointed out, that a Board might be set up in Scotland; and when it was mentioned during the Second Reading debate that the Secretary of State had no intention at present of setting up a Board for Scotland, a Member of your Lordships' House, who was English, asked indignantly: "What has Scotland done to deserve this favour?" In Clause 51 you find many reasons for that. I am trying to make it better and easier for these Boards to be set up, although I do not want one in Scotland, and we are glad to know that there is no intention of extending their powers to the Highlands Development Board. But in an area of the size of the Highlands Development Board, or any area with possibilities under this Bill for a Rural Development Board, it would be difficult, without this co-operation between private owners and the Forestry Commission, for the Board to keep under continual review all the applications for licences to sell which they receive, and to make sure in every case that no land which ought in the national interest to be forested is not lost to forestry by being acquired, perhaps, for some economic purpose. That is the second reason.

The third reason is that if the clause is left as it is now it will give a discouraging impression to private foresters. The whole of Part III gives the impression that the Government are deliberately discriminating against private forestry in favour of State forestry, but we need the full co-operation of both. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is just as anxious as I am for the afforestation programme to be substantially increased in areas of this kind in Scotland, and in many parts of England, too. I am pretty sure, also, that he will not be able to indicate to-night the possibility of any concession on this Amendment, which, in my view, is an important one and has a real bearing on the prospects of carrying out our forestry programme.

The arguments that I have advanced, if I may be allowed to say so, are based on some personal knowledge and experience. I can hardly believe that these points have all been thought out as fully as perhaps they ought to be by the Departments which prepared this Bill. If the noble Lord could tell me that he will give them the opportunity of considering, before Report stage, these arguments which I have put forward, I should be prepared to wait until then before pressing the matter further. My object is not to create controversy about forestry, but to accelerate our planting programme. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 54, line 18, leave out ("the Board and").—(The Earl of Dundee.)

7.23 p.m.


I am very conscious of the fact that the series of Amendments in relation to forestry which have been put forward by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, are motivated solely by his desire that forestry should play an increasing part in helping the economy of the country, and I find myself so much in agreement with him that I am afraid we are both in danger of being labelled as people who are unduly biased in favour of forestry, and therefore to be suspect in relation to the other uses of the land. The noble Earl has a little more freedom in this respect than I have. I have to try to steer a careful course, and therefore I must to a certain extent limit my enthusiasm for this subject which comes as naturally to me as it does to the noble Earl, although I do not have the benefit of his wide personal experience of the subject.

I wish to speak separately to the two Amendments, although they are related. If I may deal first of all with Amendment No. 39, we cannot accept this Amendment, although I apreciate the purpose of it. The effect of the noble Earl's Amendment would be to allow the Forestry Commission to be the final arbiter, with the Board merely acting as their agent. The Board is the executive body charged with the duty of meeting the problems and needs of their area, and they will be concerned with the co-ordinated development of agriculture and forestry. They will also see that the needs of private forestry are not overlooked.

A Board when drawing up their programme will decide that certain areas should be planted with trees, either as part of the Forestry Commission's programme or by private planting. As regards private planting, Clause 48(3)(b) is intended to facilitate this by empowering a Board to refuse their consent where land is earmarked for afforestation or more detailed redevelopment and the land is not in the Forestry Commission programme. If the Board subsequently purchase the land, at the request of the vendor, they would be free to sell some or all of it for private afforestation and to use the balance, if any, for amalgamation purposes or to carry out boundary adjustments of neighbouring units.

Clause 48(3)(c) is complementary to Clause 48(3)(b) and empowers a Board to refuse consent to a sale, so obtaining the chance of buying the land if the owner so wishes, in cases where the Board and the Forestry Commission both consider that the land should form part of the Forestry Commission's programme. This will of course be co-ordinated with the Board's programme by virtue of Clause 45(3). Nevertheless, I think it right that the Board should satisfy themselves in each individual case that the land should be part of the Commission's programme before refusing their consent.

The reasons for which a Board may refuse consent are clearly defined in subsection (3). Under subsection (3)(c) a Board may refuse consent to a proposed transfer of land which if acquired by the Board ought in the opinion of the Board and the Forestry Commission to be planted by the Commission. A Board will decide that certain areas should be designated for afforestation or for co-ordinated development of agriculture and forestry, but they have no power to compel people to plant, nor have they power to purchase the land in question compulsorily. The noble Earl's Amendment would enable a Board to refuse consent to a transfer of land which is considered suitable for planting by a private owner under a dedication covenant or agreement. If land is suitable for private afforestation, with or without a dedication agreement, there is no need to bring it within the ambit of this clause.

I wish to go on to read what I have here, because this relates to the Bill as it stands, and as until this afternoon we contemplated it should remain, and then I will go a little further. If a private owner wishes to plant trees and has come to a tentative understanding with the Forestry Commission about a dedication scheme, the owner should make an application to the Board for a tree-planting licence. If an area is considered suitable for afforestation under a Board's general development plan, I am sure the licence would be readily forthcoming. I shall return to this point in a moment or so. If it is the noble Earl's intention that the Board should, under this paragraph, refuse consent and so obtain the chance to acquire land which could suitably be planted by private persons, I am advised that this could already be done under the powers of paragraph (b).

I can assure your Lordships that paragraph (c) is in no way giving favourable treatment to the Forestry Commission. It merely makes provision for the particular case where a Board refuses consent to a proposed transfer because both the Board and Commission consider that the land, if acquired by the Board, should be planted by the Forestry Commission. The most likely case is where a plot of land adjoins an existing Forestry Commission plantation.

I read out the words about the position where there was an understanding with the Commission that there was to be a dedication scheme and that the owner should make an application to the Board for a tree-planting licence. The noble Earl has a succeeding Amendment on this, No. 46, but there is a Government Amendment, No. 45, which goes part of the way to meet the point of the noble Earl's Amendment No. 46.


May I ask whether the noble Lord is reading from a paper which is going to be circulated, or from something which is going to be put in the Bill?


No, I am reading from the brief with which I have been provided. I am now in a position to say that I am prepared to accept Amendment No. 46, which the noble Earl will be moving, subject to some Amendments which will have to be made upon it on Report stage. These are of a minor nature, but I think the knowledge that his main Amendment is to be accepted will make it easier for the noble Earl to withdraw these Amendments and perhaps not to move some other Amendments which were, in a way, second best to his No. 46. In these circumstances I hope the noble Earl can accept my assurance that what he wishes to retain under these two Amendments is in fact within the purpose of the Bill at the present time, and that his general object of encouraging private afforestation will be helped forward by what the Government intend to do with his Amendment No. 46.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord for what he is doing to meet me in this matter. I understand from what he has just said that paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of this clause definitely puts the interest on private forestry, so far as this clause is concerned, on a par with that of public forestry.


May I perhaps read the point once again? If it is the noble Earl's intention that the Board should, under this paragraph, refuse consent and so obtain the chance to acquire land which could suitably be planted by private persons, I am advised that this could already be done under the power of the preceding paragraph (b).


I am grateful to the noble Lord and glad to have that on the Record. Since my purpose is to help things on, I ask leave of the Committee to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I put this Amendment down because it seemed to me that two months would be rather a long time for an applicant to wait, particularly if the sale was caused by the death of the owner and the heirs were pressed in any way for leave to get the estate sold. If the noble Lord can give me a convincing reason why it should be as long as two months, I shall certainly be willing to consider what he says. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 54, line 27, leave out ("two months") and insert ("one month").—(The Earl of Dundee.)


I think this is a point of some importance. I can foresee difficulties being caused and I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, if he is going to reply to this, would give some agreement that the Board should, if possible, give the reply within one month? I can see that on occasions it might be difficult for it to give the reply within one month, but I should have thought that in 90 per cent. of the cases it would be possible. If the noble Lord can commit the Boards of the future by saying that, wherever possible, they will give the reply within one month, it will be a great help.


I think the answer which I am about to give will be satisfactory to the noble Earl and the noble Duke. The period stated is the maximum period, and it is the opinion of the Government that in the vast majority of cases—without mentioning a particular percentage: I would not really expect that the noble Duke would be far wrong—it would be easy to reach a decision in a much shorter period than two months. But, after all, we are prescribing a period in a Bill and it ought to cover all the cases with which the Board may have to deal. There is the possibility that some cases will be so complex that a longer period will be needed, and we think the period of two months is sufficient to cover any contingency with which the Board may be faced. I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his Amendment.


In view of the noble Lord's explanation, which I am glad to have, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 48 agreed to.

Clause 49 [Control of sale of certain land: exceptions and supplemental provisions]:


The purpose and effect of this Amendment is to define the "National Parks planning authority", which is to be exempt from the control of land transactions exercised by a Rural Development Board. This Amendment is proposed because the Government now feel it is desirable to define in this Bill a "National Parks planning authority", about which it appears there might otherwise be some doubt. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 58, line 4, at end insert ("and, 'National Parks planning authority' means a local planning authority whose area consists of or includes the whole or part of a National Park".—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 49, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 50 [Schemes for co-ordinated amalgamations and reshaping of agricultural units]:


This Amendment is necessary to delete references to the Minister of Land and Natural Resources in so far as they relate to the powers of a Rural Development Board in drawing up schemes for co-ordinated amalgamations and reshaping of agricultural units in England. These powers will now rest with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in England, and with that Minister acting jointly with the Secretary of State for Wales, in Wales. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 60, line 30, leave out from ("to") to end of line 34 and insert ("Wales, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Wales acting jointly"). —(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 50, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 51 [Control of afforestation]:

7.40 p.m.

LORD HUGHES had given Notice of Amendments to subsection (1), the first being after "granted", to leave out "to him". The noble Lord said: I would suggest to your Lordships that this Amendment should be considered with Amendment No. 61 and associated with it Amendment No. 62 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. This Amendment No. 44, is a drafting Amendment, and is required because of the proposed Amendment to subsection (5) of the clause which is contained in the Government Amendment No. 61. The Bill as it stands provides that in cases of transfer of land, either by normal sale or a death, the new owner should apply for a fresh planting licence so that the Board would have the opportunity to review their decision. However, do consideration of the arguments that were put forward in another place the Government think it reasonable that tree planting licences should pass with the land.

The Amendment provides for this to be achieved by a simple endorsement of the licence by the Board at the instance of the new owner and with the agreement of the licensee. Additionally, we have provided for transfer at the Board's discretion in cases where the interest taken by the new owner is not identical with that of the old owner under this same simple endorsement procedure. This Amendment really gives effect to an undertaking given in another place that we would look at this matter again. I think it meets in a rather ingenious way the point which was raised in another place, and in a way which will be completely satisfactory to all concerned. I hope it will be acceptable to your Lordships. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 60, line 37, leave out ("to him").(Lord Hughes.)


I had always found it difficult to understand why a licence should be attached to an individual and not to the land in respect of which it was granted and, as the noble Lord has said, one of the Amendments which I put down, which I do not suppose we can reach to-night, was designed to redress that. But I have no doubt that what he has said will alter the position in regard to my Amendment, and perhaps it will not be necessary for me to move it. I am very grateful to the noble Lord for having met us to this extent.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I must inform your Lordships that if Amendment No. 45 is agreed to I cannot call No. 46.


I indicated that I was not proposing to move No. 45, as I intended to accept No. 46.

THE EARL OF DUNDEE moved in subsection (2)(b) to omit "on the establishment of a Rural Development Board". The noble Earl said: The noble Lord has very greatly shortened the course of these proceedings by his kind indication in advance that he was prepared, subject to certain qualifications which he will no doubt tell us in a few minutes, to accept this Amendment. This Amendment, No. 46, is the one to which I attach the greatest importance. I would have spoken at some length upon it, but I shall now confine myself to a few very brief remarks in view of the noble Lord's indication that he is willing to accept it.

I feel in general—and I think it is worth saying this—that most people in this country, including anybody who is likely to be on any board, including most of the general public, have really no conception of the scale on which afforestation ought to proceed in Great Britain. We are still the most hopelessly badly wooded country. Ten years ago when the last Census was taken we had only 3.9 million acres of woods, of which only about half were properly stocked, compared with 28 million acres in France—and France is a fairly rich agricultural country as well. I felt, and feel still, although I am delighted to hear what the noble Lord has said, that Clause 51 in general might have been specially designed by some person who was particularly anxious to stop the progress of afforestation in Great Britain.

That is how the clause has always struck me, and that is the reason why I took part with others in going on a deputation to the Secretary of State for Scotland more than a year ago, a deputation which was very glad to have the assurance to which the noble Lord has referred to-night, that the Secretary of State did not intend either to create Rural Development Boards in Scotland or—and this was the important point—to transfer these very vexatious powers of interference with private forestry to the Highland Development Board, which can be done under this Bill. We cannot help feeling that, although the present Secretary of State, we are glad to know, does not intend to do this, there will be nothing in the law to prevent his successor, if he takes a different view, from doing so. That is the reason why I put down a whole series of Amendments to this clause, simply for the purpose of avoiding putting a spoke in the wheel of private forestry. I have had a great deal of experience of how difficult it is to persuade private owners to do as much planting as they ought to do, and I think all our legislation ought to be aimed solely at encouraging and never discouraging afforestation.

The general conception of most people is the traditional one that forestry should be confined to a few little patches of ground here and there which are not much good for anything else. I will not go into the Zuckerman Report, which I think many of your Lordships have studied—I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has done so. It pointed out again and again, in passages which I had intended to quote but will not do so now because it is not so necessary to rub them in, how desirable it was that a great deal of our marginal land should be planted, and that the benefits to the nation from afforestation in so many areas would be very much greater than the continuation of poor uneconomic attempts at continuing agriculture. The Report deplored the fact that the Forestry Commission have not been able to sustain the tempo of the programme embarked upon as a result of the 1943 White Paper. It gave good reasons for regretting what it called that deplorable fact. That was ten years ago, and since then there has been no acceleration. On the contrary, it was accepted by the late Government in 1960 that we should have to scale down our target, which I thought was a very deplorable thing.

In order to get things right, especially in areas like the Scottish Highlands—and also, I am sure, in many areas in England and Wales which may become subject to these Boards—it is essential, if we want to stop de-population and retain there a proportion of young people, to get very large-scale planting done. I am afraid that the Boards appointed under Part III of this Bill are bound to consist of a great many people who do not know much about forestry, and, not unnaturally, the whole force of inertia is always against it.

Both among the public and officials—and, of course, among a great many landowners—there is a feeling that they do not see why they should alter traditional scenery. It is difficult for them to appreciate the national benefit of forestry, especially as many of them will not see in their own lifetime the benefits of planting. I feel with the greatest intensity that any legislation which imposes any restriction on planting is bad in the interests of this country, and that is why I do not like anything much in this Clause 51 and why I hope to amend it.

However, the noble Lord has indicated that he is willing to accept this Amendment, No. 46, and I feel that by exempting dedicated land a very large part of the objection is removed, because in my opinion most serious planting ought to be dedicated. I do not say there are not cases in which it would be a great pity to interfere with private planting in small areas which are not being dedicated, but the acceptance of this Amendment would remove a very large part of my objections, because I am always in favour of giving people inducements to dedicate. This, of course, would be a kind of negative inducement to do so. Therefore, I thank the noble Lord most sincerely for what he has said. I also think that one or two of my noble friends may wish to say a word on this Amendment before I withdraw it.

Amendment moved— Page 60, line 41, leave out from ("is") to ("subject") in line 42.—(The Earl of Dundee.)


Better arrangements for combining forestry and farming, and the best choice of land crops and trees for each, would of course be very acceptable. The nature and tone of the clauses which bring forestry into an agricultural Bill have been most disappointing and alarming to anybody who helped to promote forestry and to practise it. I was hoping that this Amendment, and also subsequent Amendments, would all be accepted, and I am very grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said in advance. Otherwise, the effect on persons willing to help by growing timber would be very damping. Surely in a forestry Bill such an attitude to farming would never arise or be allowed. Licences for planting, and control of what species anyone may plant, are appearing for the first time. Surely, the case for this is very weak, and must have a restraining effect on expansion of forestry and on the increase of planting. Also, these clauses have given an impression of an attitude which is unfriendly or indifferent to private forestry, even while ignoring it in relation to State forestry. Ministerial assurances have been given about equality for both, and these are welcome, as is their encouragement to forestry. But the wording in the Bill is important and we are complaining of its effect. An improvement is necessary if confidence is to be restored.

We feel, further—and I should like to pursue this—that evidence of a more helpful attitude to private forestry at a very early date is needed, just as much as for farming. The blame for the wording of these clauses must surely be due to a lack of attention or consultation between the Government and the forestry associations, and also with the Home Timber Advisory Committee and the Forestry Commission. I hope that this matter can be remedied soon, in order to correct the harm done by such weak support for forestry in this Bill, and in other ways. I hope that one result of our disagreement in these matters will be a closer association between the representatives of Government and the forestry industry. But who is the Minister responsible for forestry? If there is one, surely he will give stronger support for forestry?

I should like to support very briefly my remarks about the inadequacy of attention to forestry, and to refer to three special items: the refusal of a grant for new roads necessary to make planting possible on land now too difficult of access, and to reduce costs of extracting timber. Secondly, the refusal of investment grants or allowances for machinery and equipment. Thirdly, the exclusion from this Bill, or recent ones, of co-operative activities. In all these cases, and others, valuable help has been given for farming but is denied to forestry; and there is nothing to show that the treatment is not deliberate. I hope that the Minister will go further in accepting the Amendment, and will endeavour, so far as he can, to bring the Minister responsible for Forestry into closer touch with the industry.


First of all, the noble Earl, I think inadvertently, said that he would withdraw his Amendment.


May I apologise? I thought the noble Lord said that he was going to accept the Amendment, in a different form, on Report stage; that I should have to withdraw it first. If he means that he will accept it now, I am, of course, even more delighted, and shall be glad to consider any necessary adjustments on Report.

7.57 p.m.


It is a very pleasant experience to find one's goodies are so good that they cannot be believed on first hearing! In fact I am proposing to accept the Amendment as it stands. What I must say is that it may be necessary, on further examination of it, to have a consequential Amendment on Report stage. This would be only for the purpose of ensuring that there was satisfactoryliaison between the Commission and the Board in relation to these areas of land.

Having said that, I wish to rebut what the noble Earl and the noble Duke have said regarding the purposes of this clause. It has been interpreted as being anti-forestry. It is not. The whole purpose of these Boards is to ensure the most satisfactory use of land within the area of a Board by having co-ordination of activities to ensure that all aspects are considered and that the best use is made of the land. I think that forestry stands to gain by such a co-ordinated approach, because in the past it has been one of the complaints of those who were devotees of forestry that agriculture proceeded from the basis that the natural purpose for land is that it should be farmed, and that everybody else must prove his case against that. The purpose of the Rural Development Board is to consider all the uses to which the land in these areas may be made, and forestry will therefore start off from a better footing, perhaps, than it has ever done before.

But we cannot proceed from one extreme to another. If it was unsatisfactory that forestry had to prove its case against agriculture, we cannot just go to the other extreme and say that forestry must be accepted as the natural thing in other areas and that other factors are not to be considered. Therefore, we wish to have Clause 51 for its co-ordinating activities. The reason why I have accepted Amendment No. 46 is that we think we see the way to do this without conflicting with these co-ordinating activities, while at the same time removing a misconception that it was intended to be an obstacle.

The second thing the noble Earl said with which I disagree was his reference to the cutting back of the programme in 1960: he said there has not been any acceleration since. He has forgotten the fact that the present Government have twice accelerated. We in Scotland were immediately able—and I must remember that I am not speaking as a Scottish Minister at the moment—within an overall programme to accelerate in 1964, by taking advantage there of a short-fall which England and Wales could not at that time use. There has since been a further expansion in the total programme, and the matter is again being looked at. So, while the accelerator may be being pressed a little too gently for the noble Earl's liking, the foot is definitely on the accelerator to some extent.

I hope therefore (and I believe that this is probably the last piece of Business which the Committee will do to-night) that the noble Earl will be able to go off and consider the matter, in the knowledge that he has achieved his main objective, and pursue assiduously the task of scrutinising his other Amendments in order to see how many of them he can withdraw so that we may the more speedily get down to the ultimate form of his successful Amendment at the next stage.


Before my noble friend speaks, may I say that the interpretation to which the noble Lord refers is quite widespread outside this House, and I hope that his words will restore confidence to the industry.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I think we have made reasonable progress and that this might be an appropriate moment to resume the House. I therefore beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at three minutes past eight o'clock